Greek letter fraternities were slow to appear on the Agricultural and Mechanical College campus, partly because of opposition by the faculty to their establishment. In October, 1887, the faculty received a request from students for permission to organize a “Greek Society,” described as a “secret society for promotion of morality, high class standing, etc.,” but on the ground that secret societies were undesirable, the petition was rejected. The issue continued to arise at irregular intervals. Early in 1893 President Patterson himself presented to the faculty a petition from some of the students who wanted permission to establish a fraternity. On this occasion, the faculty appointed a committee to study the question and at the next regular meeting recommended that the petition be granted. The report of the committee was then adopted by a margin of 14 to 3.
The first two fraternities: Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi established chapters on the campus, but seven years passed before others followed them. Then in rapid succession five additional groups appeared: Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1900; Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Theta and Pi Kappa Alpha in 1901; and Sigma Nu in 1902. After another 7 years, Alpha Tau Omega established a chapter at the State University.
Alpha Xi Delta Sorority
The women students were even slower than the men in establishing Geek letter societies. Several local organizations came into existence shortly after 1900, but not until 1907, when Alpha Xi Delta came to the campus did a women’s group have national affiliations. A chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta received a charter in 1908 and in the year of Patterson’s retirement, a third national sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, established a chapter.
Honorary societies included Lamp and Cross, Mystic 13, and Tau Beta Pi and toward the end of Patterson’s administration a fourth, Key Roll, was established.
The Agricultural and Mechanical College chapter of Tau Beta Pi, an honorary engineering fraternity, was established in 1902. Membership was based on scholarship and only students in the last two years of engineering were eligible to join.
There are currently 19 Sororities and 24 Fraternities on UK’s campus. Last year over $427,600 was raised by the Greek community and given to various charities and over 52,000 service hours were performed. The Greek community joined with the UK chapter of Habitat to build a Habitat house for a UK employee.